Ataya: HUMA Interdisciplinary Seminar Series

Patience Mususa

Speaker and presenter: Patience Mususa (The Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden)

Patience Mususa grew up on the Zambian Copperbelt. She has worked since 2015 as a senior researcher at The Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala, Sweden. Her research interests are mining, urbanisation and sustainability. She researches the social, economic and ecological dynamics of mineral extraction in Zambia’s Copperbelt.

Topic: In There Used to Be Order, Patience Mususa considers the social change in the Copperbelt region of Zambia following the re-privatization of the large state mining conglomerate, the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), in the mid-1990s. As the copper mines were Zambia’s most important economic asset, the sale of ZCCM was considered a significant loss to the country. More crucially, privatization marked the end of a way of life for mine employees and mining communities. Based on three years of ethnographic field research, this book examines life for those living in difficult economic circumstances and considers the tension between the life they live and the nature of an “extractive area”. This account, unusual in its examination of middle-income decline in Africa, directs us to think of the Copperbelt not only as an extractive locale for copper whose activities are affected by the market, but also as a place where the residents’ engagement with the harsh reality of losing jobs and struggling to earn a living after the withdrawal of welfare is simultaneously changing both the material and social character of the place. Drawing on phenomenological approaches, the book develops a theoretical model of “trying,” which accounts for the Copperbelt residents’ aspirations and efforts.

 Access paper* 
*Chapter 2: "You Can’t Plan" in There Used to Be Order: Life on the Copperbelt after the privatisation of the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines by Patience Mususa. Book monograph in press, scheduled for publication by University of Michigan Press in October 2021. See book

How Ataya works: One presenter and their work – in exchange with the audience. Each Ataya session engages with selected work by the presenter (a text, artwork, performance, even food). The presenter introduces their work and grounds the subsequent discussion with the participants. For best engagement, we recommend participants to view the work (made available in advance on our website) before the session. More on the Ataya Series